With leading scorer Mac McClung on the sidelines with a foot injury before the start of the game, things weren’t looking so good for the Georgetown Hoyas. Georgetown needed to find a way to climb out a 17-point hole early in the second half.
”Next man up mentality,” Georgetown’s Jagan Mosely said. “It’s not that we’re more aggressive...Jahvon Blair stepped up. We just played more as a team, since we didn’t have a scorer like him back there.”
Georgetown stood tall late, meticulously chipping away at the deficit, eventually completing the comeback for a 73-72 victory.
Blair led five different Hoyas that finished in double figures, with a game-high 23 points.
”This was a great win,” Georgetown head coach Patrick Ewing said. “Undermanned, we were down, but my team didn’t give up, they kept fighting. They kept making plays. To me, this is a season defining win. What I told them in the locker room was we have to continue to build from this. You can’t take a step forward after a win like this, and then go backwards.”
The Hoyas started to heat up midway through the second half, going on a 14-4 run to bring the game to within three. Mosely went 1-of-2 from the free throw line to make it 62-59, with 7:57 left in the game. It was a back-and-forth contest for the rest of the way, with both teams trading the lead.
With 50 seconds left, Omer Yurtseven made a hook shot to make it a one-point game. St. John’s tried to answer back, to protect its lead, but the possession ended with a shot clock violation. On the following play, Georgetown broke through a Red Storm press. Mosely dished it out to open Yurtseven, who laid it in for the go-ahead score.
There was still plenty of time left for the Red Storm to salvage the game, with just over 10 seconds remaining. Rasheem Dunn dribbled down court and lost his handle on the ball. It bounced off his foot, with players from both teams diving onto the floor to desperately come up with the loose ball.
The Hoyas recovered the fumble, and the ball made its way to Blair, who was able to evade the Johnnies until the final buzzer sounded.
”Their energy went up, and then we played on our heels,” St. John’s head coach Mike Anderson said. “It was playing not to lose. We weren’t in attack mode.”
St. John’s held a 38-29 lead at the break, and led for just over 32 of the full 40 minutes.
Georgetown shot a much-improved 16-of-28 (57.1 percent) as a team during the second half, after a lackluster 10-of-35 (28.6 percent) display in the first half.
Aside from Blair, Mosely finished with 16 points, seven boards, five assists, and three steals. Yurtseven got going after the break, making all of his shot attempts in the second half, en route to a 13-point, 15-rebound double-double. Terrell Allen and Jamorko Pickett chipped in 10 points apiece.
For St. John’s, Dunn and Mustapha Heron paced the Johnnies with 16 points each. Julian Champagnie shot 6-of-10 on the floor, and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds. L.J. Figueroa had nine points, six boards, four assists, and three steals.
With the win, Georgetown improves to 13-9 overall and 3-6 in the Big East. The Hoyas will resume action on Wednesday night, when they take on the Seton Hall Pirates. Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.
St. John’s drops to 13-10 overall and 2-8 in conference play. It will have about a week to digest the loss. The Red Storm will head on the road and face the Creighton Bluejays on Saturday, at 6 p.m. ET.
Three takeaways from the game:
Georgetown’s leading scorer, Mac McClung, was out with a foot injury. Jahvon Blair started in his place, did a pretty solid job early. He quieted down a bit after a good start, but reignited things in the second half. Blair finished the game with 23 points, three rebounds, and five assists.
”Jahvon Blair’s been crying about minutes all year, he got 40 today, so I don’t want to hear anything when we practice tomorrow,” Ewing said, jokingly.
As for McClung, Ewing is unsure of how serious or how long the sophomore guard is expected to be out for.
”We don’t know when Mac is going to come back,” Ewing said. “Tonight, we played two walkons. Everyone on the roster has to do their part, no matter the amount of time they get.”
According to Ewing, he’s expected to undergo a MRI, which will further diagnose and reveal the severity of McClung’s injury.
It was a good day for the St. John’s bench, especially during the Red Storm’s big 19-4 run in the first half to take the lead initially. Overall, the Red Storm’s depth came through, as St. John’s outscored Georgetown’s bench personnel, 27-1, for the entire game.
With Anderson shaking up the lineup, Heron was shifted to the bench, where he led the unit with 16 points. However, there were also solid contributions from Marcellus Earlington and David Caraher, who provided timely shots as St. John’s was trying to build or protect its lead.
”I thought our guys played with great energy,” Anderson said of his team’s evaluation with the lineup changes. “I thought our defense was connected. I thought offensively, we had great ball movement. Even the guys that have been starting, came off the bench and gave us quality minutes. Every night, you got to shake it up a little bit. That’s the key, you gotta shake it up. They did the things we wanted them to do. Our biggest hurdle has been finishing. We were in position, we had to finish.”
Not to Lose
Coming down the stretch, it felt like St. John’s, who had a healthy double-digit lead, was slowing the game down a tad too much. Instead of letting their athleticism and usual higher-tempo of play take place, the Red Storm was slowing the ball in transition, dribbling out to reset the floor, and working late into the shot clock.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but St. John’s was slowing it down to a rate that the Johnnies were unable to generate some scoring as Georgetown inched closer and closer. There was a cold spell once the game was evened up, with St. John’s only hitting two of its shots over the final 7:30 of action.
Aside from that, turnovers aided Georgetown’s comeback effort. After not turning the ball over once in the first half, St. John’s coughed it up 12 times in the second half.
”We get after each other each and every day about not making the right decision at the right time,” Anderson said. “Give (Georgetown) credit. They made some plays down the stretch, where we didn’t make those plays. Whether we’re up three with the ball, we’ve got to get to the free throw line or get a good shot off, or getting a stop going down the stretch. 10 seconds is a lot of time, you’ve got to make a play. Tough, tough loss. Our guys have been resilient all year, and we have to find a way to bounce back.”